Walking the talk
When inquiry involves human subjects, higher learning institutions expect their students to develop standardized skills. Dedicated courses help students learn the rudiments of conventional inquiry, which consists of gathering and analysing data based on observation (participant or not), experimentation, surveys, interviews and focus groups. Other courses address bodies of literature in various fields, with an emphasis on key concepts and abstract theory. Programmes proceed from introductory courses to advanced studies, a logical pathway that seems as normal as breathing. In most cases, effective student learning is measured through essay writing, open-question exams and multiple-choice testing. If per chance students move on to graduate studies or jobs that require them to undertake ‘real’ research, they are most likely to use the mainstream methods already outlined in their undergraduate textbooks.